Then the sky crashed down upon us

PhotographerAnnalisa Natali Murri
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

One year after the collapse of Rana Plaza (Dhaka), many of the over 2,500 survivors still suffer from serious mental and psychological problems. Return to a normal life is hard, as they must deal every day with insomnia, depression, fear, panick attacks and disorientation.


"Give me water, I beg you…give me water - I heard a girl near me imploring for water…We were a few blocked under the ruins. Some of us died, I've seen them dying. It had been about three days since the collapse, we were still trapped there. We didn't know if we would all have died down there. Then I saw the girl trying to bite the neck of a corpse at her side, with her last strength, to suck and drink its blood. I have no words to describe what I saw. When I was rescued, after 4 days, she was dead". Imran Hossain, 48, sewing operator for Phantom Apparels at the 3rd floor of Rana Plaza, tries to bring his mind back to last year, April 24th, when everything changed for him and nearly other 2500 survivors. One year has passed after the accident, but that hell keep reliving relentlessly in the memory of those who entered the building that black morning. The trauma is overwhelming and is having a long-term impact on psychological well-being of these people. Immediately after the collapse, in fact, first aid were mostly concerned with the physical injuries of the survivors, leaving the psychological one in the background. Many survivors were taken to the hospitals in deep psychological shock. However, a lack of trained mental care professionals and psychologists in many of the medical centres has caused many patients with symptoms of acute psychological trauma to be discharged after having received a bare minimum of counseling. Now, one year after the tragedy, still hundreds of people suffer from invisible, intangibles wounds. Trauma is a normal response to a disaster like this, but a year later there are still those who are no longer able to sleep at night nor can hear the slightest noise. To many of them happen to suffer panic attacks or pass out when experiencing something that reminds them that day. Many others suffer from memory loss, hear continuously mourning voices imploring help or even see dead workers laying beside them. "I was at New Market, a multi-storey building just a few hundreds meters far from Rana Plaza, when suddenly the light went off for a blackout. It was just like then, the same that happened that morning, before the generators were turned on and everything started to shake. I began to tremble, I was in panic. I couldn't stay inside the building even one minute more" - tells Ujjal Das, 25, still recovered at CRP (Center for the Rehabilitation of Paralyzed) in Savar. The tragedy of the Rana Plaza changed the course of my life - says also Sajal Das, 26. His conditions are common to hundreds of victims, their relatives and the rescue workers who are still unable to recover physically and, especially, psychologically from the trauma. The tragedy and pain are far from over.